Mika & Lolo by Virginia Mendez
Mika & Lolo is a bilingual children’s book available in English with Italian, Spanish, German and French.
The book invites kids and their parents to question the aspects of everyday life that are imposed by their gender and encourages them just to be themselves, no matter whether they are a girl or a boy
This colourful, fun picture book will appeal to children of all ages. The illustrations are striking and the double spread pages with the bilingual text add to its charm. I love how the story is told from Mika's point of view and is in first-person narrative. I think this helps the reader get a real sense of who Mika is and provides opportunities to discuss her personality, which I think a lot of children will relate to.
The book challenges gender stereotypes, stigmas and prejudices which is just brilliant. Time and time again I hear young children parroting gender stereotypes that they have either heard or think is accurate. Yes even in today's society I still hear these misconceptions from children. It is imperative that we challenge these negative stereotypes and get children thinking and talking about them. Mika and Lolo offers the perfect tool to open up conversations about gender stereotypes and consider the impact words and subconscious prejudices can have.
I really liked the mixture and balance of pictures to writing in this book. I loved the fact that there was French text on one side and English text on the opposite page so that when you turned each page both languages were included. I don't see a lot of dual language books but I really enjoyed this feature and would love to see more books like this. Even though I couldn't read the French text I enjoyed looking at the letters and the different punctuation that was used. It did make me want to learn French and I cannot wait until we do so in school, at the moment we are learning Spanish which I love.
I thought the ending was really touching when it said, 'you can be who you want to be'. I think that is a really important message for everyone to hear and learn.
Many thanks to Virginia Méndez for gifting us a copy of this lovely book which led to lots of positive and thought-provoking conversations.
Ever since I could hold a pen I’ve wanted to be a writer. Well, almost always a writer and something else: policewoman, firewoman, farmer, politician, lawyer, economist … and a writer. I think it is the only thing that has remained constant during all these years. I still haven’t exactly figured out what I want to be ‘when I grow up’, but being a writer will always be part of it.
I have written terrible poems, short stories, I have a blog that looks more like a newspaper and yet I never thought I would write for children and that would be my first real project.
I have 2 children, Eric and Nora, and it is true what they say about how motherhood changes the focus of your interests. I have written this book for our family, so it could open the dialogue around some aspects of feminism that need to be absorbed at this very early stage. In a world whose audio-visual and literary market still seems to perpetuate the outdated concepts, I also wrote it for all those families who share those values but can’t find the appropriate tools to pass the message to their kids.
My plan is to write more Mika & Lolo books, and use them as complements to family conversations (always the most important tool) for all those situations that are perhaps slightly difficult to discuss – we can have drawings and characters that kids can identify with and that let us communicate with them in a more effective way.
This project has made me happy since the moment it crossed my mind. First, when it was just a very generic idea: a bilingual and feminist book for kids, then while I was writing it and got to know the two cousins full of questions and innocence, after that it was the emotion of seeing them almost alive, through Paula´s vision…each step of the way was reassuring me that it wasn't only a stupid idea that you once have in the sofa, but the exciting beginning of something.
I am a mum now, and (almost) a writer. I think my younger me would be satisfied enough of how things are turning out, and I am full of energy to face the challenge.